A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from the professor who serves as the advisor of the Astronomy Club in my school. He was asking the members of the club (or members of whichever mailing list he was using) if anyone was interested in volunteering for this event that’s part of the World Science Festival.
I had no knowledge of this festival prior to the e-mail, but I knew I had to get on board because I thought that it would be a really exciting event. </nerd> Actually, let’s <nerd> it again. That statement isn’t the end of the nerdiness in this post.
The festival ran for a span of a few days, with events scattered around New York City. The one I was involved in was located in Governor’s Island. NASA ran the event, which focused on teaching the visitors more about the sun.
To make this shorter, I’m going to skip the part that I didn’t sleep early the night before, that I was playing Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box for an hour or two instead of sleeping, that I tossed and turned before I got off the bed to take a shower, that I was freaking out in the train to New York about being late, that I ran several streets in New York City to try to catch the early ferry for volunteers, that I actually missed the ferry, that I spent a few minutes trying to convince myself that the day isn’t going to be terrible just because it didn’t start out perfectly, and that I was pretty giddy about riding on the water.
Instead, I will start out with what I had to do.
There were several exhibits that the volunteers had to present. We weren’t given much of an introduction about the activities, just a blurb about what it’s about, but not so much about detailed instructions. I was assigned to two activities—demonstrating UV beads and making sundials.
I was paired with an old lady when I worked at the UV beads exhibit. She was nice but she wasn’t a very good listener. I forgive you, Ms. Irene. Anyway, we showed the kids these UV beads that change color when exposed to UV light, e.g. that which comes with sunlight. It fascinated the children very much, seeing the colors change. We gave them sunscreen to put on the beads to see how it affects color change.
The sundial event wasn’t as exciting; it involved cutting and folding a mini paper sundial. When I signed up for it, I kinda pictured making wooden ones, but that was pretty stupid of me. The good part is that I actually learned how to make and use a sundial. I’ve always wanted to have a wristsundial, but I don’t think that’ll happen any time soon.
So much talking was involved. I wanted to give a short introduction to the two activities, one talking about UV light and the other talking about sundials. Well, obviously. I must have finished five water bottles from trying to hydrate my throat, tonsils, uvula, etc.
Practically all the visitors were elementary kids accompanied by their parents, so it seemed necessary to talk in that bubbly voice that one oft hears, for example, when a kindergarten teacher talks to her students. Ms. Irene and these two girls who replaced me and my partner when we left the UV beads exhibit were really good at it. I, on the other hand, wasn’t. I just couldn’t. I mean, I tried to talk in a way that I hope wasn’t boring and monotonous, but I couldn’t match the others’. It’s probably better that way anyway. I don’t want to imagine how I would sound “overbubbly.”
During my break, I stepped out of our tent and explored the rest of the area, where there were people working with their telescopes, playing with kites, or just plain roaming around. Unfortunately, it was mostly cloudy yesterday, despite the forecast of “mostly sunny.” It was a bit disappointing, for the sake of the event, but I was a bit relieved, since I don’t do well in excess sunlight. (Also disappointed, since I would’ve liked everyone to have gotten the full experience of the event)
Despite some awkward encounters with undermotivated kids and bratty children, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. I loved being a part of the whole astronomy event. The best part was working with the children who outwardly showed their interest and fascination with the exhibits. Ah, the thrill of learning. That’s what I love.
With that, I can now safely say that this is truly the end of the nerdiness of this post.